The Editorial Board of the New York Times wrote a piece critical of the government’s attempt to compel Apple to create new software “that would bypass security features on the iPhone used by the terrorist, Syed Rizwan Farook.” The government is trying to force Apple to create a way to deactivate the password-protection feature (which erases the device’s contents after ten failed attempts at guessing the password) on this one iPhone. This week, a Federal Magistrate Judge ordered Apple to do just that, but the company is resisting. Apple’s chief, Timothy D. Cook, in a 1,000-word letter to Apple’s customers, said this would be a “chilling” breach of security, and said the company would appeal the order next week. Apple has invested large sums of money and expense in creating an encryption system in the iPhone that fully protects their customer’s privacy. The government has downplayed their position by saying that the decrypted software would only be used on the one phone used by Farook, but the Times and others believe “that will hardly be the end of the story.” Some experts think that judicial overreach, in this case, would actually make it easier for the software to be hacked, thereby compromising trade secrets and other valuable data. A ruling against Apple would likely result in companies like Apple having to create software that could only be opened with the customer’s permission.
The Times frequently permits comments from their readers following their editorials. The following was a typical comment.
Charles Hintermeister D.O., Maine
Apple — and the rest of us — know that if they agree to help with this case, there will be absolutely no end to it. They will have surrendered what is perhaps the single most valuable thing they offer their customers: believable high level privacy from hackers, and even (obviously) the federal government. Apple’s promise to maintain that privacy is by extension also a promise to help ensure their civil rights generally. I understand the FBI’s position, but I applaud Apple, and hope they don’t cave.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump has called for a boycott against Apple products until they make the software available to the government. We disagree with Trump on this issue for the reasons advanced by the Times and the commenter above, and because his position on this issue, only made hours before the South Carolina Primary, seems disingenuous to us.